This month has seen a massive overhaul of the UK’s travel rules. Not only has the amber list now been scrapped, but the red list has been reduced to just seven countries, allowing international travel to return to almost pre-pandemic levels.
Fully vaccinated travellers are also no longer required to provide COVID tests upon entry to the country and are now only need to take a PCR test on day two of their arrival.
Lateral flow test will replace PCRs from October 24th
Last month Transport Secretary Grant Shapps also announced plans for binning PCR test requirements favouring cheaper lateral flow tests for vaccinated travellers. Shapps revealed at the time that he planned to implement the new procedure by the end of October, but no firm date was given, leaving many feeling understandably impatient.
Now, a date for the change has finally be announced, and from the 24th of October, fully vaccinated travellers entering the UK will only need to take a lateral flow test on the second day of their arrival.
The announcement comes after the government was pressured to implement the changes before the end of the half-term break, a popular holiday time. Now, families returning from their vacations will no longer need to shell out big money for PCR tests from private providers, which can cost, on average, between £75-140.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said in a statement: ‘We want to make going abroad easier and cheaper, whether you’re travelling for work or visiting friends and family.’
Javid went on to explain that the new change has only been possible due to the ‘incredible progress of our vaccination programme, which means we can safely open up travel as we learn to live with the virus.’
How will the new lateral flow testing work?
The new day two lateral flow testing will only be available to fully vaccinated travellers returning from green-listed countries. Those returning from Colombia, Ecuador, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Panama, Peru and Venezuela, will still be required to adhere to standard red-list travel rules.
Lateral flow tests for travel will be available for booking from the 22nd of October, when a list of approved suppliers will be posted to the gov.uk website. The free NHS Test and Trace tests will not be approved for international travel.
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) added that eligible travellers would also be able to book to have lateral flow tests done upon arrival at testing centres located in some airports.
The DHSC also confirmed that passengers who choose to take their tests on day two will be required to take a photo of their test and booking reference to verify the results as soon as possible.
Anyone who returns a positive lateral flow test will then be required to self isolate and take a free PCR test.